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Voluntary (Nafl) Prayers – part II:

We know the most beloved thing to AllahSWTare the obligatory deeds. Anything other than that are optional and if performed Allah will reward us with His mercy in this life and the hereafter. Allah encourages us in the Quran to strive and race each other towards good deeds. Voluntary prayers were legislated for a great wisdom and for their many benefits in order to increase the number of our good deeds and elevating our status with Allah. Some of the voluntary (Nafl) payers that can be performed are as follows:

  • Night (Tahajud) prayer: It can be performed as a minimum of 2 rakahs to a maximum of 8 or 12 rakahs (to be read according ones capacity). It is performed after sleeping for a while at night and then waking up, beginning from midnight, and can be prayed until the time of Fajir prayer starts. Allah has praised those who wake up at night for His remembrance and to seek forgiveness in several verses of Quran, saying, “They forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid from them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.” [32:16].Prophet PBUH said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer”. [Muslim] Prophet PBUH said, "Adhere to night prayer, for it is the habit of the righteous before you, and a means of drawing nearer to your Lord; it is an expiation for sins, and a deterrent from wrong doing". [Tirmidhi].

  • Sunrise (Ishraq) prayer: The recommended method of performing Ishraq prayer is to remain seated in your place of Salat after Fajr prayerand engage in Allah’s Dhikr until sunrise. Then, approximately 15-20 minutes after sunrise perform 2-4 rakahs Nafil. Prophet PBUH said, “Those who perform the Fajr prayer in congregation, read the Zikr (remembrance of Allah) till the sun has completely arisen and read 2 rakahs Nafl prayer, will have the benedictions equal to those of Haj-Umrah”.

  • Forenoon (Duha) prayer: It can be performed as 2 or 4 or up to 8 rakahs. Its time starts when the sun rises about a spear's length above the horizon (about 15-20 minutes after Fajr exits) and it continues until 20-30 minutes before the sun reaches its zenith (before Zuhr time enters). Prophet PBUH is reported to have performed the Duha prayer in twos as four rakahs and did not speak about worldly issues after the first salutation."

  • Ablution (Wudu) prayer: It is performed in 2 rakahs after wudu or ghusl, if the time is convenient before the wetness dries. Prophet PBUH said, “If a person makes a nice wudu and then performs 2 rakahs and turns toward this prayer with his heart, Paradise becomes wajib for him." [Bukhari].

  • Salutation of the Mosque Prayer: It is performed in 2 rakahs when one first enters the mosque, preferably before one sits down. If the Imam is praying the obligatory prayer then one should pray the obligatory prayer and refrain from the Nafil. Prophet PBUH said, “If any of you enters the Mosque, let him not sit until he prays 2 rakahs." [Bukhari]

  • Guidance (Istikhara) prayer: It is performed in 2 rakahs and is performed in order to receive a spiritual sign that will guide somebody for a permissible issue about which a person cannot decide what to do. The guidance prayer is recommended for those matters in which it is unclear to one what course of action one should take. After offering the prayer, one should sit facing the qibla with hands raised and recite the dua of Istikhara and ask Allah for guidance in the matter that one is uncertain to do. Jabir b. Abdullah RA said, "Prophet PBUH would teach us how to make Istikhara for each issue as if he was teaching us a verse from the Quran; he would say: "When you want to do something, pray two rakahs apart from the Fard prayer and read the prayer of Istikhara." [Bukhari].

  • Travel (Safar) Prayer: It is recommended for a Muslim to perform 2 rakahs Nafl when he\she sets off for a journey or returns from a journey. “Prophet usually returned from a journey in the late morning, before noon; he would go to the mosque perform two rakahs and sit there for a while.” [Bukhari]

  • Repentance (Tawbah) prayer: If one has committed any sinful act which is contrary to the Shariah then one should perform 2 rakahs of Nafl and humble themselves before Allah and sincerely repent, feel ashamed for their sins and ask Allah for forgiveness and make a firm intention never to commit such act again in the future. By the Grace of Allah the sins may then be forgiven.

  • Need (Hajah) prayer: it is performed in 2 or 4 rakahs and is performed after night prayer when someone has a seriously pressing need, requiring Allah’s help. After performing the Nafil praise Allah and sends salawat to the Prophet PBUH; after that, say the prayer of need and ask Allah to realize your wish.


Except forbidden times, we can pray additional other Nafl prayers at any other time of the day or night to get closer to Allah and increase our good deeds. We ask Allah to give us success in incorporating the practice of His Messenger PBUH into our lives and to avail to us His tremendous bounty – Ameen.

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